LEARNING TO MEET BY DENYING OURSELVES
Our disposition and character hinder us from practicing the proper Christian meeting; therefore, we must learn to deny our disposition and character. According to the teaching of the New Testament, we must deny ourselves (Matt. 16:24), our soul-life (16:26; Luke 9:24). To deny ourselves is to deny our disposition, since the self is in our disposition. The soul-life is the person, and the being of the person is the disposition. The expression of the person, the self, is the character. We sometimes say that someone is “a real character.” This means that a certain person expresses himself in a particular way which distinguishes him from everyone else.
As Christians we should be people who are always against our disposition and against our character. To be against our disposition and our character is to deny ourselves. We must learn to always live, behave, and have our being against our disposition. To be against our disposition is to deny ourselves. Without being against our disposition, we cannot have proper group meetings. If we are not against our disposition and character, we will go to the meetings religiously, enter the meetings religiously, sit down religiously, and conduct ourselves in the meetings religiously. The entire activity of the meetings will altogether be a matter of religion, because religion always matches our disposition and character. If we meet according to religion, disposition, and character, there will be no Spirit, no Christ, no life, and no speaking of Christ. This is the situation of Christianity today. Although many dear saints love the Lord very much, they do not meet with the Spirit or with Christ, but with religion and their disposition.
We must learn to be against our disposition and character. Whether or not we use our time in a proper way exposes our disposition and character. As full-timers it is very easy not to budget our time wisely. When we were employed in a business, there was always a certain schedule which served to budget our time. As employees, you could not go in to work whenever you felt like it. If you did this for even a short time, you might receive a termination slip and you would be fired. As full-timers, it may seem that you do not have a boss since you have dropped your job. You may say that the Lord is your boss, but actually, you are your boss. Today, you may go to work on time, but tomorrow, if you feel somewhat tired, you may go to work a little later. Who is your boss? Jesus Christ or yourself? Actually, you are the boss. I know that it is easy to spoil you as full-time trainees, because I have been in this line for many years, and I have seen many full-timers. We may say that we live, walk, and have our being in the name of the Lord. But actually we often live, walk, and have our being completely according to our disposition.
One time I asked one of the sisters whether or not she functioned in the meetings she attended. She responded by saying, “Oh, Brother Lee, you know that by birth I am not a person who can speak anything in a meeting. I was born quiet, and I am not an outspoken person.” When I received such a response, I said, “This is just your disposition.” To use the word disposition is pleasant, but to use the word self is not so pleasant. Actually, the disposition and the self are very close. To say that we are a certain way by birth seems to be a good excuse, but the Bible tells us that whenever we come together, we should have something, such as a psalm or song for speaking as well as for singing. The Lord is not happy for us to sit in a meeting according to the way we were born. Sometimes the older sisters have said to me, “Brother Lee, we are over seventy years of age. For the young ones to shout is okay, but we older ones find it difficult to do the same thing.” Their disposition became their argument against functioning as well as a vindication of themselves. We must be against our disposition. A good practice to help overcome our silent disposition in the meetings is to praise the Lord by ourselves many times throughout the day but not in a way that would disturb or threaten others. If we live a life of praising the Lord, when we come to the meetings, we will be beside ourselves with the enjoyment of the Lord. This enjoyment of Christ will encourage us to praise the Lord and shout, “Amen,” when we come together with the saints in the meetings.
We are familiar with the traditional way of meeting in Christianity. The attendants come in and sit down quietly, waiting for the pastor to lead the singing, to give a message himself, or to introduce a guest speaker. Only one speaks, and the others simply listen. This kind of meeting annuls the function of the attendants. But another way to meet is by each one coming into the meeting praising the Lord, singing, or saying, “Amen” as they enter. This meeting begins on the way to the meeting place. It bears the testimony of Christ and makes the Lord very happy.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 27, by Witness Lee)